Cure cabin fever with these not-so-fair-weather ideas

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No matter the season, there may come a time — or several — throughout the year when you are stuck inside the house. With your kids. For days at a time. With no way out. What’s a parent to do?

TV, tablets and video games can provide some sweet relief, and while they can be useful (and educational!) for an age-appropriate amount of time, sometimes you need to throw it back and have some good old-fashioned fun with your kids. Below are some time-tested, kid-approved cures for cabin fever. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

Kids

  • Make a cooking show: With the popularity of TV shows such as “Chopped Junior” and “MasterChef Junior,” it’s never been cooler for kids to cook. Look in your pantry and refrigerator and shop for ingredients, menu plan and get started creating a fabulous meal! Bonus: Your kid does the cooking. Be sure to supervise, and for a fun twist, record it on your phone and have your aspiring chef talk you through the steps like a pint-sized Bobby Flay.
  • Balloon races: All you need is a pack of balloons handy and these ideas: Have the kids hop across the room with a balloon between their legs. Or blow a balloon across the room with a straw or paper towel tube. Or, balance the balloon on a spoon while racing across the room.
  • Make slime: This can be messy and not for the faint of heart, but kids really love it and keeps them occupied. There are tons of recipes out there, but we’ve picked a couple here (without Borax), here (with Borax) and here (fluffy slime).
  • Treasure hunt: Hide a prize; it doesn’t have to be a toy (it could be a drink they don’t always get to have or another special treat). Then hide clues to find where you’ve hidden the prize. Try riddles, short rhymes or question-based clues. Each one should lead the child to a spot where the next clue is hidden.

Toddlers

  • Color scavenger hunt: Send your toddler around the house to find different-colored items and have them bring back to you. Bonus: They’ll learn colors as they play. For multiple players, you can make it a race to find an object faster.
  • Dance party: Know any 2-year-olds who like to sit still? Me neither. Crank up the music or make your own and dance like no one’s watching. Or like there’s no tomorrow. You get the idea. Bonus: You all get a little exercise, and it could result in a nice nap after all that spent energy.
  • Cotton ball races: If you have a toddler, you also have cotton balls and a nasal aspirator (a turkey baster or an empty condiment bottle works, too). Line up cotton balls and squeeze the aspirator behind it so that the puff of air moves the cotton ball forward. Race to a finish line of your choosing. Bonus: Squeezing is an essential fine motor skill.

Babies

  • Sensory bags: You’ll need a plastic sandwich bag, water, tape and a sensory item (like gel, toothpaste or body lotion). Fill the bag with water and the sensory item, tape it to the wall at about eye level of your seated baby and encourage him to reach for the bag and squish the different textures.
  • Fun with fabric: For this idea, just grab an old wipe container and fill it with small pieces of fabric like wash clothes or bibs. Babies will love opening and closing the lid and pulling the fabric out. Bonus: They will also strengthen their tactile and fine motor skills.

Keep your kids healthy and well! Schedule a visit with an Ochsner pediatrician. 

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